We have just lived through a very difficult period in our history. Many now feel hopeful thanks to the passage of Proposition 30 and a slowly recovering economy. I, too, am optimistic of better times than the five years we experienced following the Great Recession. The problem, however, is that we still have not addressed the roots of the crisis and the reasons why so many of our sisters and brothers across the nation are having difficulty surviving or maintaining the status to which they had become accustomed. It is my hope that we as a union will work to aid in transforming our society into a more just and humane society, while we focus on our immediate needs and interests as well.
We live in a nation where the top 1% of the wealthiest people own approximately 40% of the wealth. The top 10% owns nearly 80% of the wealth. Therefore, the top 1% owns more than the entire bottom 90%. Moreover, about 15% or 46 million Americans are currently living below the federal poverty line, and about 20 million of those living in poverty are living below 50% of the poverty line. This is a crisis that no human being with a conscience can ignore. Therefore, I am glad to see the new direction taken by the AFL-CIO under the leadership of Richard Trumka. Any movement towards justice cannot occur without the building of coalitions that go beyond unions and reach out to various organizations for the sake of the common good.
The same is true with our union local, Glendale College Guild, AFT Local 2276. We must not only be aware of the larger social, political, and economic context. Whenever possible, we must play an active role in shaping it. Of course, this will not take away from our focus in protecting our wages, benefits, hours, and working conditions. We just need to be mindful of how much macro-level forces impact our everyday interests here at GCC.
Now, going back to the idea of hope. Recently, I feel a very strong sense of unity across the college. If we stay united, there is much that we can do. We still have many challenges ahead, such as receiving a decent raise to make up for the several years of pay cuts, protecting health benefits, establishing fairness when receiving greater responsibilities brought on by SLO and PLO requirements, to name a few. I am confident that the Guild will work diligently and creatively to address these challenges to the best of our ability.
We have a strong and dedicated Guild Executive and negotiating team. However, ultimately, our strength comes from the membership. We appreciate and value the voices of all members representing the multiple areas of our college. The thoughtfulness and insight that come from the wisdom developed throughout the years or the energy and passion of a relatively new faculty member is always welcomed and valued. It is imperative that we sustain respectful and open dialogue in order to achieve a greater level of fairness for all our members.
For the Guild to become more effective in achieving its goals, we require clear communication with our appointees who serve on the various governance committees. Fortunately, in the last few years, our communication has become more effective, and I am hoping that we continue to maximize our power through the representatives serving on our behalf. I want to thank our representatives for their dedication, and I hope to see more faculty interested in serving on governance committees in the near future.
Needless to say, there are many challenges we currently face, and, undoubtedly, new ones will arise. At the same time, as long as we can stay positive, creative, open to dialogue, and united, we will be in a much stronger position than if the opposite were the case. Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I am looking forward to working with you.
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